We sat in this loud restaurant, crunching on our chips and queso and guac, lamenting the fact that the kitchen had closed already but enjoying our shorty margaritas and cackling away. A sort of "dinner" at 10:30 at night with my best friend, house music blaring and beautiful city-people all around the dining room. I hadn't seen Nancy in... god. Months? Had it been that long? Really?
Living in Athens has its perks, for sure. I am able to pop over to my sister's house and chat and reconnect while she tags her consignment clothes. I'm able to see my boyfriend every day (a luxury, for sure. We spent seven months living an hour apart, on opposite schedules.). Everything is close. I mean, I don't have to tell you all how great Athens is, right? You know...
But Wednesday night, I found my thoughts drifting from the conversation with Nancy and comparing the two cities... The way you compare a new love to an old one... Weighing out the pros and cons, grateful to be free from some of the old burdens but still remembering those little precious, positive glimmers with a glaze of sentimentality over your eyes. But I realized something this week: I am not in love with Atlanta anymore.
Oh! To turn your back so quickly on a city that held your heart for the better part of a decade. I won't apologize for my change of heart. As I sat there with Nancy, blue ink from her work with her antique letterpress smeared on her face, I realized something. I think my relationship with Atlanta was kind of dysfunctional, like a bad boyfriend you stay with too long. With hindsight, you think, "God, what was I thinking? I was fooling myself to ever think that's what I wanted."
I'm all over the place, forgive me.
Let me reanchor myself by saying that I want chickens. Not chicken, but chickenS. My boyfriend Colin and I went to his friend's house in Colbert this past week for dinner. We seemed to drive and drive and drive while I cracked jokes about pronouncing it Col-bear and counted the trailer parks along the highways. We found their little street, a paved road without curbs, the grass stretching over the edges of the asphalt. Their driveway was gravel and narrow, bordered on one side by a fence so covered with roots and vines and blossoms of some sort that you couldn't see the meadow on the other side in the summer dusk. We pulled up to an adorable house and when we walked through to the backyard, among the adults standing around swatting bugs and enjoying conversation, the little barefoot children running around in bathing suits and a dog and at least one cat, there was a shed. Next to this shed, was a fenced-in area with little dog-house looking structures and inside, A CHICKEN! Apparently, there were more than just the one, but the one I saw was beautiful, dark feathers speckled with white spots.
I turned to Colin and whispered, "I want chickens one day," in the same way that I'm sure some people turn to their loved ones and proclaim a desire for a luxury car or a swimming pool or some other such maybe-one-day-we'll-have-it item. He looked at me and laughed, "Really?"
Yes. Really. The self-professing city girl would trade all of speed and size and power of the big city for a little house in a big meadow with a coop for chickens. Even I was surprised at this revelation. I mean, I've thought about it before, but I've never actually SEEN backyard chickens at someone's house. This just cemented the idea in my mind.
We sat around that evening, eating and drinking around a twinkling patio, sparkling with white christmas lights and small, old-fashioned lanterns and lightning bugs. This rush of peace settled over my body, and it's not something I think I've ever really felt before.
I'm so happy that I feel like I've found a home finally. Seven years of ping-ponging around Atlanta to different neighhorhoods and nothing ever felt as much like as home as sitting in a chair, sipping Terrapin, swatting at bugs and listening to the low, muddled cluck-clucking of that chicken in his coop.
Jami Howard is a writer, graphic designer and social media snark shark, recently transplanted to Athens with her son. She teaches workshops in Atlanta and Athens on Facebook Pages and Wordpress blogging.